Golf: Shubhankar Sharma continues lead, Rashid Khan matches course record

Kolkata, Dec 26 (IANS) Gurgaon’s Shubhankar Sharma continued as leader while Delhi golfer Rashid Khan came up with a stunning course record of nine-under-63 to climb from overnight tied 14th to second place on day two of the McLeod Russel Tour Championship at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club here Friday.

Bengaluru’s S.Chikkarangappa finished the day in the third spot at nine-under-135. Indian golfing stalwart and local favourite Arjun Atwal came up with the day’s second-best score of 66 to rise from overnight tied 22nd to tied sixth at six-under-138.
The 23-year-old Khan produced a hat-trick of birdies from the fourth to the sixth, landing it within six feet on two occasions. He followed up on his exploits with three birdie conversions from a range of 15 to 20 feet on the ninth, 10th and 13th.
The icing on the cake for Khan was the eagle-birdie combination on the 15th and 16th. He hit an accurate three-iron second shot from long range on the par-5 15th to set up his eight-foot eagle putt.
Khan, at 10-under-134, matched the course record jointly held by American Edward Fryatt and Atwal.
Khan later conceded he had made some subtle changes in his game Friday.
“I had a feeling that I would shoot a six or seven under today since I made some subtle changes in my putting stroke after yesterday’s round. I made the changes as I needed to feel good with the putter. These changes seemed to have worked for me,” he said.
Sharma (64-69) mixed five birdies with two bogeys to hold on to the lead on Friday. While the 18-year-old knocked in three long birdie putts, including a mammoth 35-footer on the eighth, he also dropped two bogeys as a result of errors in club-selection.
“My driving was probably better as compared to round one but my iron-hitting wasn’t that great. I also didn’t enjoy a good start today. I’ll look to improve on my iron-play in the next two rounds. I feel I just need to keep grinding it out and make the first six holes and the last four holes count as those holes present the most scoring opportunities,” said Sharma, currently ranked 11th in the Rolex Rankings.
Amritsar’s Gaganjeet Bhullar and Delhi’s Shamim Khan are joint fourth at seven-under-137.
The Kolkata duo of Atwal and Shankar Das occupies tied sixth place at six-under-138. Shankar (70), currently third in the Rolex Rankings, is also a contender for the Rolex Player of the Year title.
Atwal followed up his quiet opening round of 72 with an error-free 66 on day two that featured an eagle and four birdies to gain eight places from his overnight tied 14th position. He landed his approach shots within three feet for birdie on the 14th and eagle on 15th and sank two long birdie putts on the seventh and ninth.
“I landed it closer today and my putting was a little better as compared to round one. I’ll look at shooting a score of around six-under in round three in order to stay in contention,” he said.
Rahil Gangjee, another local lad, lies joint eighth along with Delhi’s Chiragh Kumar at five-under-139.